SHOP SMALL WORKS
Having seared the sky, the sun—a brazier—
smolders through the crumbling clouds
upriver; to the east, rich mounds of smoky
vapors, signifying rain tomorrow, drift on.
Five white birds rise suddenly, fanned out,
flushing from a maze of roofs and gardens
well below my windows, topping mushroom-
rounded oak trees and the heady sycamores.
Riding on contingency, the birds with ease
glide upward, bodies turned to movement,
backlit from the final sun rays on the scrim
of sky and thought, as flashes of pure being—
foreseeing, passing, leaving all one ecstasy.
Drawing light against the indigo of evening,
they separate a moment, fingers spreading
from a palm, then close together to compact
their various motions into one white wedge,
which flies along the river now, accentuating
giant cranes, the beaks of freighters moored
among the Harmony Street wharves. I watch
the light reflected on sleek forms, which dip,
then disappear, a note, a point, a nothingness.
The swept effect remains, a smoothing-over
of asperities, a pentimento that refines the day,
its painted infelicities recolored in the silver
twilight. So one is, and is not, what has passed,
windy patterns on deep, loamy grasses, stilled
at dusk, a watermark of images upon the mind,
wings beating for a glassy moment in desire—
a gesture’s meaning as the shaken air resounds.
Five White Birds, Catharine Savage Brosman
oil on canvas unframed
40x60 | $3500
Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
In his own ground.
Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire.
Blest, who can unconcernedly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day,
Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
Together mixed; sweet recreation;
And innocence, which most does please,
Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.
Ode to Solitude, Alexander Pope